The Battersea Society: Planning Committee submission The Battersea Society website 

Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 24 September 2019 at 12:48:22

Embassy Gardens, 2019/3324

The Battersea Society objects to the way in which this application is presented and wishes to raise objections and concerns in relation to aspects of the application. These concern not only the lack of clarity in the documentation setting out the planning history of the site, but the lack within it of any rationale about the decision for this to be an office rather than a residential building.  The Society objects to aspects of the design and siting of the building alongside the US Embassy, the lack of space around the building, the absence of information about the use of the office building and the lack of off-street parking. 

It appears that the applicant has used existing documentation and failed to ensure that it relates specifically to this plot.  Much of the  Development Specification refers to the whole site and includes outdated statements such as ‘Affordable provision in the detailed component of the application takes into account its location within the early phases of development in the Opportunity Area with a target delivery between years 2013 and 2016’ and details of development which ‘will come forward for development between 2013 and completed by 2016’ and ‘The later phases of development … are anticipated to be commenced end of 2016/early 2017’  The Transport plan is clearly marked as a Draft and fails to include Appendix A which ‘shows the location of the car park spaces’. 

The Design and Access statement (DAS) is posted in random order and split between Reports and Drawings. We cannot find part 5.  

Change to Office from Residential.  We understand that planning permission was given for this to be either office space or residential but it is still essential that the applicant sets out the reasons for their decision and allows Wandsworth Council to assess these in the light of their overall strategy for the provision of office and residential space within the area. We remain concerned that moves to offices and to hotels from residential is led by the developers’ short term market problems rather than any policy relating to the long term future of the area.  We will be pleased to see the details of the Council’s strategy in relation to varying types of space but have so far been unable to source it.

We cannot see any statement regarding affordable office space and this is essential.  We also consider that good office buildings include shared spaces so that workers in different offices can come together from time to time.  

Size of building on the plot:  Picture at 8.4 of the DAS shows how the building sits close to Nine Elms Lane and proud of the US Embassy, we would suppose masking and dominating it from the west and providing an unattractive backdrop from the east.  Apart from the setting back of the heights it follows the block design for the rest of Embassy Gardens rather than being a distinctive building to complement the standard set by Kieran Timberlake.   It is set ungenerously onto the whole of the site, with just a narrow colonnade to one side   There is no space for trees in front of the building to offset traffic pollution from Nine Elms Lane and enhance the entrance and walkway and we can see nothing in the landscaping plan about this.  We cannot see the relevance of citing St. George’s Square or Vauxhall pleasure gardens in support of the statement that there is ‘an abundance of green space in the surrounding context’.  We agree that the building itself offers pleasant green space on its levels but have written elsewhere about the relatively meagre size of the ‘Linear Park’. 

Transport Plan:  It is essential that there is adequate parking for use by office-workers with disabilities and we can see no mention of this.  Equally an office is going to require more generous provision for servicing and delivery parking than appears to be available. 

We acknowledge that there may be some answers to the points we raise within the documentation but the cut and paste approach taken by the applicant makes it hard to be sure. We trust that in the absence of further relevant material, properly presented to allow adequate assessment by officers, the Planning Applications Committee and others, this application be refused on these grounds alone.

To see full details of this application and other comments, or to make your own views known please click here